Pyramid of Amenemhat III

was built by King Amenemhat III (r. c. 1860 BC-c. 1814 BC) during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2055–1650 BC). It is one of the five remaining pyramids of the original eleven pyramids at Dahshur in Egypt. Originally named Amenemhet is Mighty, the pyramid earned the name Black Pyramid for its dark, decaying appearance as a rubble mound. The Black Pyramid was the first to house both the deceased pharaoh and his queens. Jacques de Morgan, on a French mission, began the excavation on the pyramids at Dahshur in 1892. The German Archaeological Institute of Cairo completed excavation in 1983.


The pyramid was originally about 75 metres tall with a base 105 metres long and an incline of 57°. Typical for pyramids of the Middle Kingdom, the Black Pyramid, although encased in limestone, is made of mud brick and clay instead of stone. The ground-level structures consist of the entrance opening into the courtyard and mortuary temple, surrounded by walls. There are two sets of walls; between them, there are ten shaft tombs, which are a type of burial structure formed from graves built into natural rock.

Below ground level in the subterranean structure lay a network of complicated passages. The ‘King’s section’ remains mostly intact with a sarcophagus and canopic jar; however, the king was not buried there. The ‘Queen’s section’ was broken into by robbers and looted. There are four other burial chambers in the subterranean structure; to whom they belong, however, is unknown. Two are thought to belong to King Amenemhet IV and queen Sobekneferu. As the pyramid sank, it began to crush the chambers located beneath it. The builders tried hastily installing supporting beams and mud brick walls to stop the sinking, but this final effort was unsuccessful, and the pyramid was ultimately abandoned. The ‘King’s section’ contained a burial chamber containing a large sarcophagus that was carved to imitate the outer wall of Djoser’s Pyramid complex at Saqqara, possibly another attempt to reinforce the legitimacy of his rule. Burial chambers for two of his queens were created beneath the pyramid; the first chamber of the ‘Queen’s section’ under the south-western quadrant of the pyramid was for Queen Aat and the second chamber was for an unnamed queen.